Churches & Denominations with Unsafe Official Divorce Policies for Abused Spouses

If you belong to one of these denominations or attend one of their churches, please contact them.  Even if your own pastor condones divorce for abuse, please write, call, or email denomination leaders and ask that they change their official divorce policy.

If even one pastor or church leader follows these policies, they are risking vulnerable people's lives and sanity. See below for ideas of what to write. Here is a website that has links to official denomination websites, so you can contact the leadership.

 

Churches that don't condone divorce for physical violence (per their own written policies):

 

—Evangelical Covenant Church  (If you are an ECC member or attendee, ask to have the policy changed: John Wenrich is the president: https://covchurch.org/who-we-are/help/contact-us/)

—Southern Baptist Convention

—Evangelical Free Church

—Calvary Chapel

—Protestant Reformed Churches

—Orthodox Presbyterian Church

—Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

—Lutheran Church Missouri Synod

—Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod

—Reformed Church in America (RCA)

—Anglican Church of North America

—Christian & Missionary Alliance

—Church of God in Christ

—United Church of God

 

(For a side-by-side comparison chart of 40 denominations and official policies—from their own websites—on divorce, go to this page, then download this 8-page PDF. It includes links to each claim.)

 

 

 

Churches that don't condone divorce for physical violence unless leaders say it's "life-threatening." (How do they know in advance?)

 

—Presbyterian Church in America (PCA): only if abused by an unbeliever

—Evangelical Presbyterian Church: ongoing or murder attempt
         [Note: this implies it must be a failed murder attempt, not merely a verbal threat.]

 

 

 

Churches that have a divorce policy online, but don’t condone any reasons for divorce, not even adultery

 

—Christian Reformed Church of North America

 

 

 

 

Denominations that have no divorce policy online, but analysis suggests they prohibit all or most divorce

 

—American Baptist Association (not ABCUSA)

—Apostolic Lutheran Church of America

—Primitive Baptists

—Assoc. of Reformed Baptist Churches in America (ARBCA)

—Salvation Army (officers)

—National Center for Family-Integrated Churches

 

This is why conservative Christian marital abuse victims (wives and husbands) who need a life-saving divorce are streaming out of our churches and taking the children with them. See the graph and the link to the Christianity Today article documenting this. http://www.lifesavingdivorce.com/1million

 

 

How Can You Help? What to Write

If you belong to one of these denominations or attend one of their churches (as I do), please contact them.  Even if your own pastor condones divorce for abuse, please write, call, or email denomination leaders and ask that they change their official divorce policy.

If even one pastor or church leader follows these policies, they are risking vulnerable people's lives. See below for ideas of what to write. Here is a website that has links to official denomination websites, so you can contact the leadership.

I know people will simply say that their pastor doesn't follow the policy, so there's no problem. That's not the point.

These policies are unsafe. These policies kill people. Abused spouses are driven to despair, depression, suicide. They are left vulnerable to more domestic violence, and they are more likely to be homicide victims.  Divorce saves lives (as the graphic below, from Harvard's Quarterly Journal of Economics, demonstrates.)

Several of these policies suggest that God wants you to stay married even if there is physical violence. You can never divorce, even though the Bible commands an abusive/neglectful husband to divorce his wife and let her go. www.lifesavingdivorce.com/abuse-in-bible

These no-divorce-for-abuse policies have a chilling effect. When the official website takes a hard line, it is used to determine which pastors and members align with the denomination and which do not. It is a litmus test. Even good caring pastors feel pressure to tell their abused church members to stay.

Here's an analogy: What if your company had a handbook stating the policies, and your supervisor said, "Ah, you can just ignore that rule." What do you as an employee do? You are being given a no-win choice. If the policy is not a good one, then it's better if the company revises their handbook, rather than putting managers and employees in a situation where they are non-compliant and fear losing their job, just for doing the right thing.

Thousands of Christian divorcees, perhaps a million, have already stopped attending these conservative Christian churches. And it's important that these denominations face the truth: that THEY have presented a false choice for abuse victims. Some abused wives have been excommunicated for divorcing abusive husbands. Here's a link to several stories: www.lifesavingdivorce.com/excommunication

See link below for a graph showing the attendance gap in conservative churches. Conservative Christian divorcees are not attending church as much as demographers expected they would. Other churches do better with divorcees. Follow this link to an article (and graph) that appeared in 2020 in Christianity Today discussing the problem. www.lifesavingdivorce.com/1million

Contact your denominational leadership and send a letter or email. Tell your story, or talk about other people's stories. Here are some stories of women and men who stayed with their abuser because their church leadership pressured them to stay www.lifesavingdivorce.com/stay  Here are 50 comments from marital abuse survivors who went to church leadership for pastoral care. They tell  about their conversations with pastors and church leaders, some of whom demonstrated good wise discernment, and some showed their hardheartedness and indifference to the suffering of others: www.lifesavingdivorce.com/good-vs-bad.  You can also show the biblical support of divorce for abuse: www.lifesavingdivorce.com/abuse-in-bible

For those who have loving pastors who defy church policy, congratulations! There are many courageous pastors who secretly ignore the official divorce policy of the denomination and, like the courageous Hebrew midwifes from the Bible, saved lives. Here's a question: Has your pastor stated his personal view on the local church's website? If not, that shows the power of official policies to silence pastors.

 

What if my denomination has some good articles about domestic violence and condemns marital abuse?
That’s great. I’m thrilled that your denomination is addressing physical and emotional abuse. I'm glad they are condemning it. But that isn't the same as changing their official policy about divorce-for-abuse. If they have now changed their policy about divorce and abuse, then they need to post it publicly and clearly on their official website and remove their old policy.

 

Divorce Saves Lives. When “no fault” divorce laws started passing one state at a time, starting with Governor Ronald Reagan in California in 1969, researchers wanted to see the effect. In states that passed unilateral no-fault divorce, they observed the suicide rate for wives drop 8-16%. The domestic violence rate by and against both men and women dropped 30%.  The homicide rate of women murdered by an intimate dropped 10%.   Stevenson and Wolfers, “Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics (Feb. 2006): 267, 286.

Open Arms for Christian Marital Abuse Victims

Marital abuse victims who’ve been disciplined or excommunicated, or who have left their church out of fear of gossip and judgment, and wish to tell their story are also welcome to contact us. We have an understanding and accepting online community of Christians (and other people of faith) who’ve needed life-saving divorces. Reach out for an invitation.  www.lifesavingdivorce.com/contact  

 

 

For Corrections

(For a side-by-side comparison chart of 40 denominations and official divorce policies—from their own websites, go to this page, then download this 8-page PDF. It includes links to each claim.)

Churches frequently change policies. If you have an update or find an error in this chart, please report it with as much detail as possible, including exact quotes, page numbers, URLs, and specifics to www.lifesavingdivorce.com/contact  Only publicly available information from official denominational websites will be used.

 

 


Do You Need Support?  I’d like to invite you to my private Facebook group, "Life-Saving Divorce for Separated or Divorced Christians." ANSWER the 3 QUESTIONS. This is a group for women and men of faith who have walked this path, or are considering it.


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